In 2020, we have all experienced a year like no other. The COVID-19 pandemic, as well as multiple climate, social and political disruptions, resulted in a tremendous acceleration of many existing trends and the emergence of some new ones. So, what does next year look like from this vantage point? Let’s look at some macro trends first:
- With the imminent COVID-19 vaccine distribution to the general public, it is likely that the lockdowns will stop, stability will return, and the economy will start to recover. We will begin seeing more jobs and spending from both businesses and consumers.
- At the same time, it is clear that this year has made a long-term mark on trends such as remote working, virtual events and other types of virtual collaboration, which are expected to continue and evolve.
- Another long-term trend is, of course, the anticipated impact of the new US president over the next 4 years. In general, we can expect focus on the COVID-19 pandemic response and the economic stimulus in the short term, as well as climate change, expansion of Obamacare and the return to foreign alliances in the long term.
As we enter 2021, the world at large and communications professionals in particular find themselves at a significant turning point. What will be our “new normal”?
Here are Onclusive’s predictions for what to expect in 2021:
Corporate reputation as a key success metric
During this era of disruption and uncertainty, corporate values and brand activism have become more important than ever. PR will be expected to shift the focus toward value-based communications, including the prevalent topic of health and safety, and corporate reputation will start taking center stage as a key success metric.
Increased focus on internal communications
As companies transition to the “new normal,” remote work is here to stay and everything we do will become increasingly digital. Keeping this remote workforce engaged is a new challenge, which will require unprecedented involvement by corporate communications. Flexibility, clear communications and DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) initiatives will become mission-critical.
Livestream gone mainstream
2020 proved that virtual events can result in online connection and collaboration that is just as effective as it’s traditionally been in person. As companies continue to capitalize on the power of livestream, there will be a lot of room for creativity and innovation around employee and customer communications, including hybrid events and programs for both virtual and physical participants.
Fusion of PR and content marketing
Content marketing is a proven way to break through the noise, as long as the content is highly visible. That’s why content marketing needs PR. While it will continue to grow as a high-leverage tool for both PR and marketing teams, who is in charge of content marketing will remain up for grabs at many companies. One thing is clear: PR and content marketing together are a powerful duo, allowing brands to put the right stories into the hands of the right journalists, influencers and bloggers.
New level of data-driven communications
Until the economy starts showing signs of lasting recovery, we will continue to experience restricted budgets from businesses and value spending from consumers. Ensuring that a brand remains relevant while achieving its business goals will necessitate a new level of data-driven communications. PR measurement that identifies the most impactful content and optimizes content quality will grow in importance, and more advanced analytics tools will help determine strategic investment decisions. A new metric, share of search, will build momentum as a way of measuring PR effectiveness and tying PR to market share.
Emphasis on message resonance
Marketing and communications teams will focus more on messaging resonance with the public and press for both their brand and competitors. Using data to evaluate which messages worked and didn’t work before spokesperson media training will become prevalent among communications pros. This specificity will help savvy PR teams to drive more awareness, interest, desired actions and market differentiation.
Growth of in-house PR
When it comes to communications, no one can understand the company culture and products more than the people actually working in it. There is also something to be said about real-time response and the ability to focus entirely on the company’s own internal needs. As better technologies make it more practical and the realities of managing communications across marketing, PR and social teams require tighter integration, companies will continue to take more PR activities in-house.
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